by Inlander Readers & r & & r & Hell on Wheels & r & The "Spo Don't Blow" Last Word article (12/28/05) inspired me to try something new to help Spokane not suck so much and give the younger community one less thing to bitch about. With every new year I learn something new: salsa dancing, knitting with a stitch 'n' bitch group, belly dancing -- you name it, I'll learn how. But I've always wanted to start something bigger and more challenging.

Here's just what Spokane needs: women's flat-track roller derby! I know there's enough punk-rock attitude here to make this sport work. Seattle and Portland both have women's roller derby leagues; this is a sport we need to get in on. Leagues are sprouting up weekly across the country. Hear my plea for help and get the word out to establish a Spokane league!

Stacie Ellis & r & & lt;a href="" & & lt;/a & & r & Spokane, Wash.

No Robber Left Behind & r & Joe Hatchie's story is a tragic one indeed ("Justifiable Homicide?," 1/12/06), but what are we thinking here? All are contemplating whether Jeff Hayes was justified in shooting Hatchie. As tragic as this incident is for both men and their families, I think we're missing the point. Why was a good family man who served our country honorably pushed to such a place? We are always hearing politicians giving lip service to "how important our children are." They placate us with slogans like "no child left behind" and others, but nothing changes. What about "no child left homeless" or "no one left homeless"?

This incident would never have taken place if we lived by the true morals we claim to. The Democrats talk about social justice and "safety nets." Republicans claim to hold the moral high ground with their "moral majority" backing. But neither seems to feel any real responsibility to anyone or anything. They excuse themselves by blaming the other side for stopping them from doing what's right and then nothing gets done.

I say we should all be ashamed of ourselves. With the wealth this country possesses, for us to abandon our fellow citizens to a fate such as Joe Hatchie's is an obscenity. Poverty is what drove Joe to do what he did, and I'm sick and tired of holier-than-thou people decrying that claim, saying that "It's not a legitimate excuse." I'd like to see how one of them would react to having their whole world destroyed by poverty. I think it's time for our society to step back and rethink our priorities.

Devin Barber & r & Spokane, Wash.

Getting It & r & In his review of Brokeback Mountain (1/5/06), Ed Symkus says, "I don't get it." I had a similar experience with another film, which might shed some light and help him get it. It started when I read the book The Hours by Michael Cunningham. This is a book about three women from three different time periods who feel trapped by culture, society, sexuality and themselves. I was impressed with Cunningham's amazing ability to craft a sentence. At the same time, I kept thinking these ladies were foolish. From my perspective, the solution to all of their problems was simple. I kept wanting them to pull themselves up by the bootstraps and take charge of their lives. It seemed so simple.

Several months later, I was in a town where the author was giving a lecture about the book and the film that was being made based on it at the time. I thought I might go, but then thought, "No, why should I go see a lecture about a book I didn't like very much because it was filled with stupid, weak women?" Then the film came out. It hit me over the head like a hammer, and I finally realized that these women could not help themselves. My perspective had been incredibly insensitive and unsympathetic. That pretty much describes why Ed Symkus doesn't get it. He doesn't understand that the two characters in Brokeback Mountain are trapped and can't help themselves.

Symkus complains that Ennis (Heath Ledger) mostly mumbles, and that Jack (Jake Gyllenhaal) does more physical posing than acting. Director Ang Lee carefully fills the film with, as Symkus says, stunning scenery and wonderful performances by the women: "Michelle Williams' performance . . . reaches heartbreaking proportions when she stumbles upon the truth, then panics, as all color drains from her face." Well, some men cannot deal with their troubles. They find it difficult to discuss their feelings and tend to mumble or do not talk at all.

Some gay men very often pose, especially when they are trying to put on the facade of a macho cowboy so that no one will really know what they are. Many of this film's elements Symkus doesn't get or complains about stunningly tell the story, and are all woven together by Ang Lee's genius.

Maybe after thinking about it, Ed Symkus will eventually get it. At least that happened to me with The Hours.

Thomas J. Armitage & r & Spokane, Wash.

The Meat Disease & r & According to Monday's report by U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the national cost of medical care has escalated to $1.9 trillion in 2004. This represents a 7.9 percent increase over the previous year, or nearly three times the 2.7 percent rate of inflation.

In terms of the national economy, the cost of medical care now accounts for a record 16 percent of our gross domestic product and ruins the profitability and international competitiveness of our industries. In personal terms, it amounts to $6,500 for every American, or $15,500 per household. It represents a major financial burden, lost productivity, personal misery and premature death.

The real tragedy is that most of the diseases associated with the outrageous cost of medical care are self-inflicted through flawed lifestyles. These include inactivity, smoking, substance abuse and meat consumption.

Yes, meat consumption. According to the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, nearly 1.4 million Americans are disabled, then killed prematurely each year by heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and other chronic diseases that have been linked conclusively with consumption of animal products. That accounts for 56 percent of all deaths, and presumably, for a similar percentage of medical costs, or more than a trillion dollars.

Most of us have no control over the national cost of medical care. But, each of us has a great deal of control over our household's $15,500 share every time we visit our local supermarket.

Samuel Davidson & r & Spokane Valley, Wash.

What Is It Good For? & r & This war makes me see how blind and naive we have become as a country. I have so many questions and I feel I'm one of very few asking them. If our sons, daughters, friends, and loved ones are dying for the good of our country, we need to know specifically what they are dying for.

Let me ask you a question. What are we at war for? Is it a war on terrorism, a war to regain order in Iraq and to take all control from Saddam Hussein, or a war because their "weapons of mass destruction" were a threat to us? I think at one point or another, our reason for this war was one of these. [But] It seems to me that all of these reasons have been ruled out, completed or proven to be false.

The war on terrorism was declared some time in March; less than two months later, Bush declared victory. The theory that there were weapons of mass destruction was proven wrong in that first month. Saddam Hussein was captured. He is now on trial, and elections in Iraq have taken place.

Bush recently spoke to us from the Oval Office. I was expecting him to present us with another excuse for why he feels we need to spend more money and risk more lives in the Middle East. From what I heard, he just told us to trust him. No new reasons and no new excuses. For me to trust the man who convinced us that this war is a good thing, I need to know why it's a good thing, what it's for, and most of al, what our intentions are. I need answers. I'm a 17-year-old high school student. I can't even vote yet and feel that somehow this entire country is being deceived, manipulated and lied to. I'm encouraging people to get involved in some way. Maybe we need to be asking more questions because we need some more answers.

Jake Szymanski & r & Coeur d'Alene, Idaho

TPG Market @ Resurrection Records

Sun., June 13, 12-6 p.m.
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